Thursday, April 2, 2009

Origin of a Sexy Species

I have XM radio in my office, but it only gets three music channels - Top 40, hip-hop, and a mix station. The mix station, called Pink Channel Radio, is bearable in regards to music, but every now and again it offers up "life tips for women" from pop doctors and psychologists. They tend to be cringe-worthy on a good day, but today's tip especially irked me.

The subject was feeling sexy. "Show me a woman who feels sexy 24/7, and I'll show you a liar," intoned the condescendingly friendly voice. She went on to explain that feeling sexy is all about self-confidence, and if one is self-confident, then one will naturally feel sexy, look sexy, and be perceived as sexy by others. This isn't bad advice, in general. Self-confidence is fantastic. Feeling sexy is fantastic. Aside, however, from the obvious offense of implying that all women share a desperate need to look, feel, and be perceived as sexy by everyone at all times, this radio blurb assaulted the millions of women - and men - who struggle with their own self-confidence, among other more serious life issues, because of how they are perceived in regards to sex and "sexiness."

So let me get this right, Radio For Women. I need to improve my self-confidence so that I can be sexy, and then once I am sexy, the world can objectify me, ostracize me, or embarass me, because a sexual woman, and in addition a sexual woman involved in kink, is not the most openly embraced woman in the world. Then, objectified, outcast, and ashamed, I can search deep down for that self-confidence, bring it back to the surface, take pride in who I am and - because, by your own rule, Radio For Women, as a woman I need to be perceived as sexy - fall into the same painful cycle again.

Maybe I'm just a little sensitive right now after reading an insightful blog post from the brilliant and beautiful Miss Tori (and I'm not just saying that because she's a disciplinarian). On her (now defunct) blog La Dolce Tori, she recently wrote about the possibility that the influx of women into the adult industry during the recession could raise acceptance and remove the stigma of being a sex worker. She cited an article from the SF Gate, which stated "In this economy, 'desperate measures are becoming far more acceptable,' said Jonathan Alpert, a New York City-based psychotherapist who's had clients who worked in adult entertainment." Acceptance due to necessity had not occurred to me, and I have found myself hopeful since reading Miss Tori's post. If acceptance of traditional sex work (i.e. "vanilla") becomes commonplace, can the acceptance of fetish work and lifestyle and its practitioners be far behind?

I can admit that I have not experienced hardship because I like to be spanked. However, friends, strangers, and those I admire in the spanking world have experienced far more than hardship, often publically, always unnecessarily. Sex workers of the world, be they providers, pornographers, models or mistresses, have the right to their careers perhaps moreso than anyone else in the world.

Sex work isn't known as the oldest of professions because it was the career nobody wanted or the service nobody sought. I've been reading a vastly entertaining collection of sex trivia called Sexy Origins and Intimate Things by Charles Panati. It light-heartedly traces early prostitution from hunter-gatherer society onward. One theory as to why we, as humans, are essentially constantly "in heat" is because women bartered sex for food and protection for themselves and their children. The men fed and protected the women who remained sexually receptive for the longest periods, thereby essentially creating a race that was ingrained to want sex all the time. The need for sexual satisfaction is literally in our blood.

Why, then, are we outcast when we want to provide sexual satisfaction to others and obtain it for ourselves? Cultures and mores aside, why would we as a society subscribe to the denigration of the men and women who, quite literally, uphold our origin of species? Whether the work is for pay or for pleasure, we are doing what our genes, not our radios, have instructed us to do: be sexy.

Being sexy, in this sense, is not comparable to that of the pop psych radio pop-up. We have long outgrown our need to propagate the species. The fact that we still crave to satiate our sexual needs indicates that somewhere along the way, sex ceased to be about procreation. I think, as you read my blog, we are all in agreement here. The fact that the need for sex did not dissipate, and instead actually took on new forms (balloon fetish, anyone?) indicates that we now require our sexual needs to be met for our own innate human requirements. No assembly necessary, we came as we are and we now want to cum as we are as well.

The key is the fact that those needs are innate. I was born to become a woman who wants alot of sex and to be spanked to varying degrees quite frequently. I was born to want that mostly from a man, but now and again I have sought a woman in his place. I was born to prefer leather and the cane over hard flat wood. I was born to want to be erotically commanded, reprimanded, commandeered. When I am confident about who I am and how I was born, I am also someone who cannot express this "sexiness" to my family or co-workers or most of my friends. Let me tell you, Radio For Women, when I am feeling sexy, looking sexy, and being perceived by others as sexy, I'm also bent over a solid object and having my ass beaten with any number of implements.

So thank you, Radio For Women, but until this world has changed, I am afraid your advice does not adhere to me, or to any woman, or to anyone. We don't need to be sexy 24/7. We need to be accepted and allowed to live our lives. Offer a tip on that, and maybe I will be more willing to listen to Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" three times in one day. Until then, Top 40 it is for me.

(The Pink Channel does provide a valued and charitable service to breast cancer research and treatment, which is why I am not going to actually send this diatribe to them. Still, I'm fairly sure that when they state that breast cancer affects one in three women, they didn't just mean the vanilla ones or the ones who could grace the pages of Maxim. And no one should be expected to "feel sexy 24/7." Don't give us tips on how to do so, give us tips on how to tell those who expect us to do so to piss off.)

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